The U.S. Navy program to improve the reliability and seaworthiness of its Hovercrafts is moving forward. As first reported by Design News, Navy engineers are changing the technology used to attach the rubber-pleated skirts that contain high-pressure air that moves the craft above water. Newly developed fasteners can be replaced with regular tools, speeding replacement of damaged skirts. The new TineLok system has one or more tines that work in conjunction with longitudinal bolt thread channels to prevent counter rotation and loosening. The skirt manufacturer, Avon Rubber, has sent a purchase order for the first Navy Hovercraft replacement program. Orders to cover the rest of the fleet are expected to begin in May. There are 100 skirts on each Hovercraft and maintenance costs will be cut 25 to 30 percent. The first fasteners are all stainless: the nut, the tine and bolt. Tests are also being conducted on plastic versions that cut weight by 75 percent. Nuts and bolts are made from PEEK and the tine is made from glass-reinforced nylon. Rod is being machined for the sample run. The Army is looking at the technology for some of its weapons systems. It may also have applications for fastening of lighting in various applications.
Listen to a podcast on the new Hovercraft fastening technology.
A self-propelled robot developed by a team of researchers headed by MIT promises to detect leaks quickly and accurately in gas pipelines, eliminating the likelihood of dangerous explosions. The robot may also be useful in water and petroleum pipe leak detection.
Aerojet Rocketdyne has built and successfully hot-fire tested an entire 3D-printed rocket engine. In other news, NASA's 3D-printed rocket engine injectors survived tests generating a record 20,000 pounds of thrust. Some performed equally well or better than welded parts.
Researchers at MIT's d'Arbeloff Laboratory are developing shoulder- and hip-mounted robotic arms to help workers in aircraft manufacturing perform difficult or complex assembly tasks that would normally require two people.
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